When will your candidates stand up for cycling and walking?

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Woman cycles with shopping in a basket on back of her bike

When will your candidates stand up for cycling and walking?

Hundreds of candidates are pledging to support increased investment in cycling and walking, but will your next MP stand up for active travel, and are the political parties promising any new money for cycling and walking? Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns Duncan Dollimore reports who’s said what on funding.

Two week's ago Cycling UK launched its Election 2019 campaign, giving you the chance to ask the candidates aspiring to become your next MP whether they’ll stand up for cycling and walking.

An underfunding of cycling and walking crisis

Active travel is massively underfunded throughout the UK, with spending in England (outside London) amounting to only around 2% of total transport spending. It’s better in Scotland, but nowhere is it enough, which is why we wrote to every candidate across the UK asking them to pledge to support increased investment in cycling and walking to at least 5% of transport spending next year, rising to at least 10% within five years.

In the last two weeks, over 3,000 people have taken action to write to the candidates in their constituency who’ve yet to make the pledge, and as a result 529 candidates have now done so, committing to support the transformational level of investment in cycling and walking that’s desperately needed.

Which party’s candidates are pledging?

You can check which of your candidates have pledged, and email the ones who haven’t, but by political party the number of candidates who’ve pledged so far is (numbers are up to date as per article published date):

  • Alliance Party of Northern Ireland = 4
  • Brexit Party = 7
  • Conservatives = 7
  • Green Party (England and Wales) = 212
  • Independent = 19
  • The Independent Group for Change = 1
  • Labour = 102
  • Liberal Democrats = 150
  • The Liberal Party = 1
  • Plaid Cymru = 6
  • Scottish Green Party = 5
  • Scottish National Party = 1

Where parties aren’t listed above, no candidates have pledged to date.

Is funding for cycling and walking in their manifestos?

Of course, some political parties only stand candidates within either Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, where funding for cycling and walking is a devolved matter. We have however outlined in our letters to those candidates that the underfunding of active travel is an urgent issue throughout the UK, and that if elected as an MP they would be able to table questions, speak in debates and seek to influence decisions regarding investment in active travel, so we’re still asking for their support.

So, with six days to go to the election, what have the main political parties said or committed to in their manifestos on funding for cycling and walking?

This is a factual account of what the parties have said to date without further comment or opinion. We will however update this as and when any further announcements are made, but at least you know where they all stand as of today, and you can check whether your own candidates are standing up for cycling and walking, and email them to ask why not, through our Election 2019 action.

Conservative

A commitment to create a new £350 million Cycling Infrastructure Fund. A separate costing document confirms that this is spread over 5 years, at £70 million per annum.

Labour

A manifesto commitment to increase the funding available for cycling and walking Further details were outlined in a subsequent press release confirming that capital investment in cycling and walking would amount to £4.7 billion over five years, in England, with total annual spending in England on active travel increasing to £50 per head. Currently it is estimated to be just over £7 per head annually. 

Scottish National

No mention of cycling or walking.

Liberal Democrat

A commitment to introduce a nationwide strategy to promote walking and cycling, including the creation of dedicated safe cycling lanes, increasing spending per head five-fold to reach 10 per cent of the transport budget.

Plaid Cymru

A commitment to increase spending on active travel routes and promote walking and cycling, with significant improvements to cycling infrastructure, but no mention of the amount.

Green

A commitment to a Green New Deal for transport spending £2.5 billion a year on new cycleways and footpaths.

Scottish Green

A commitment to a Scottish Green New Deal which would redirect funding away from high-carbon transport infrastructure and to public transport, cycling and walking, but no mention of the amount.

Brexit

Nothing on cycling and walking.

Parties in Northern Ireland

The Ulster Unionist Party have yet to publish their manifestos. We will update this article as and when they do. Neither the Democratic Unionist Party, the Alliance Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party,or Sinn Féin have mentioned cycling or walking in their manifestos. 

Holding feet to the fire

Whichever party or parties form the next Government, we need champions to stand up for active travel in Parliament.

We need to be able to hold them to account and point to the pledge they made to support increased investment in cycling and walking.

And people like you need to be able to say to your next MP hang on, you said you’d support this, why aren’t you?

If they’ve pledged we can hold them to it, so please give us one minute of your time, and email your candidates now.

You don’t need to worry about pestering them. If they’ve already pledged they won’t receive another email. Only those who haven’t will continue to receive emails, which you can edit if you want to refer to local issues or concerns.

We’ve been fobbed off on funding for cycling and walking for too long, so let your candidates know how important this is to you, and take action today.

 
 

In compliance with the Lobbying Act, Cycling UK promotes the charity’s views on issues which relate to its charitable purpose. We have outlined the policies of each political party whilst maintaining a neutral tone towards each party. We have approached candidates to set out our concerns on funding for active travel and are publishing the responses from candidates because these relate to the charity’s purposes. Cycling UK however is not party political and remains neutral.

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Comments

Dear Fellow cycling/walking enthusiast

 Many thanks for your communication. And thank you for your patience/forbearance waiting for my reply. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that my kind and supportive team of volunteers who help me manage the thousands of enquiries on multiple electronic and non-electronic platforms help me marshal and manage this process while I hold down a full time job and attempt to get around the 40,000 doorsteps in the constituency in difficult weather and winter constraints.  

This is a subject which I and my Party view as a higher priority than it is granted at present. You may know I’ve been a lifelong enthusiastic cyclist and walker. Indeed, I would say that in spite there being evermore creative methods of accommodating cycling and pedestrian access in our transport systems I feel less safe and less considered by the efforts made to improve our status in transport and public access planning in our urban environments. 

We know that if we are to tackle climate change, we need fewer cars on the road and we know that an inactive lifestyles places greater pressure on the health care system. Encouraging cycling and walking is a central part of our plans to promote healthy lifestyles and to help move towards net zero greenhouse gases.

This is why the plans set out in our manifesto commits us to investing an additional £4.3 billion in cycling and walking over the parliament – in the final year of the parliament this would mean just under £1.2 billion invested in active transport. We will invest in both infrastructure and measures to promote cycling and walking as an alternative to other modes of transport. In addition to this we would reassign current spending on roads from the transport budget to meet the five and ten per cent targets. 

In my view it is not just about spending money, but in changing priorities in the more congested urban space where too often the private car is granted too great a precedence above, disabled people’s access, cyclists and walkers.

 

So, I am more than happy to pledge my support for increased investment and priority to be given in active transport.

For clarity, I should say that this commitment is to raise spending on active transport to the level of five and then ten per cent of the current central transport budget. Liberal Democrats also have plans to substantially invest in electrification of buses and trains, so on our planned level of spend, we would not be investing ten per cent of our transport budget by year five. But this would, regardless, mean an investment of around £35 per person for cycling and walking and I trust that this is still within the spirit of your pledge.

I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that the contest will be very close between the Conservative and me this time. Last time he won by just 312 votes. If I don’t win, he will. And that would be very bad for those of us concerned with tackling climate change, tackling the presumption of the superiority of the car and for public health.

Yours sincerely, 

Andrew

 

Andrew George

andrew@andrewgeorge.org.uk

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